Posted in Interview

Interview of Rajdeep Paulus

Today I would like to welcome Rajdeep Paulus, who wrote Swimming Through Clouds. You can see my review here:https://remaininhislove.com/2014/02/19/rajdeep-paulus-swimming-through-clouds/

Thank you so much for willing to be interviewed!

1.     What inspired you to write Swimming Through Clouds?

I wanted to write a story of extremes. Extreme sadness and heartache walking side by side with extreme joy and an unforgettable love story.   I feel like in real life we are constantly asked to navigate the waters of extreme emotions on any given day. One moment, we’re dancing around the living room with the love of our lives, and the next we could be sobbing over devastating news we just received over the phone. How does one do that? My hope is that through writing and readers delving into my stories, we might get a little closer to understanding how to manage the madness and why we cannot do it alone.

2.     What are some challenges you face (if any) in writing a YA novel?

The three challenges I face are 1. I struggle to let a story out of my hands for fear I could make that one scene just a little better. 2. I long to get my books in the hands of teens and as a new author, the process of finding teens (even with social media) seems daunting at times, and I eat way too much chocolate when I’m writing. Yeah. That last one was a confession. 🙂

3.     What message do you hope to convey with Swimming Through Clouds?

Simply put, that life is a fight, but we don’t have to go at it alone, and sometimes the sweetest love story can start with a tiny act of kindness.

4.     Can you tell us a little about book 2?

Sure. Seeing Through Stones is the sequel to Swimming Through Clouds, and picks up on the same day (although a few hours earlier) where the first book left off. The catch is that Seeing Through Stones is told from two Points of View, namely Jesse and Talia. And I love how their stories are so different, yet their journeys collide in the most unexpected ways.

5.     I haven’t read book 2 yet, but is the series a trilogy? Or are you working on a new series?

I’m pretty sure Seeing Through Stones wraps up the journey of Talia and Jesse and I plan to move on. Unless… well, let’s not shut any doors too quickly. In the meantime, I do have two other stand alones that I’m currently working on and editing. Crush Me is about a girl named Meena who lives in NYC and cuts to deal with the loss of her father and the heartaches that come with her family’s story. And The Color of Tomorrow is about two sisters who cross the ocean to escape poverty only to discover that there are far worse things to run from. I added links in case anyone wants a sneak peek at the first chapters. 🙂

Thanks so much for having me!

Happy Swimming!

-Raj

Rajdeep Paulus is the author of Swimming Through Clouds, is mommy to four princesses, wife of Sunshine, a coffee-addict and a chocoholic. As of this June 2013, she’s a Tough Mudder. To find out more, visit her website or connect with her via Facebook  TwitterPinterest, or Instagram .

 

Don’t forget to buy book 2 which is now available on Kindle!

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Posted in Uncategorized

Amy K. Sorrells’ How Sweet the Sound

About

A Southern Novel of Second Chances
 
From a distance, the Harlans appear to be the perfect Southern family. Wealth and local fame mask the drama and dysfunction swirling through their family line. But as the summer heats up, a flood tide of long hidden secrets surface.
 
Devastation from a rape followed by the murder of two family members brings three generations of the Harlans together on their pecan plantation in Bay Spring, Alabama. Chief among them is Anniston, who by the time she turned thirteen thought she’d seen it all. But as her heart awakens to the possibility of love, she begins to deal with her loneliness and grief.
 
This tender coming-of-age tale, inspired by the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, shows how true healing and hope comes only from God. Though our earthly family can wound and disappoint, our heavenly Father brings freedom to those long held captive through His mercy and grace.

Review

There is something about reading about the south through the eyes of someone who is coming of age that can be done so beautifully and this book is no exception. This book is a bit out of the ordinary with what I read, but the writing is addictive and manages to really pull you in. I found myself very much invested in the characters. The Biblical story of Tamar is really a very tragic story and let me tell you, it’s tragic in this story to, but it ends with such hope that I know if you pick this book up, you will enjoy it. 

There are two narrators in this book: Anniston, the young girl who is growing up amidst all of these family secrets and Comfort (who is like Tamar) who has lived them. 

What I liked:

Anniston is a great narrator. Her voice manages to stay the same throughout the book, even as she gets older. I love the way she thinks, acts, and responds to the situations around her. I especially like her with Jed. Though they are young, you can begin to see the depth of their relationship. And Jed is such a sweetheart. He has issues of his own, but he always manages to be there for Anniston (and vice versa).

Comfort is a woman who is going through and I love how the author does not sugarcoat it. There are days where Comfort’s faith is strong and there are days when her faith is weak, but I love the journey the author takes you on that shows why she chooses to move on beyond her circumstances and not stay the victim. And Solly? He’s such a good man. 

Spiritually, I loved the use of Jacob’s Ladder and that God comes to us when we’re most alone and have nothing; that His angels are always tending to us, taking our pain up to Heaven and bring down peace for our hearts. This was just shown so beautifully. There is also the theme of not letting your past impact your future because if you don’t come to terms with your past it may destroy you.

What I didn’t like:

Jed and Anniston were just getting good when the book ended. I so want a book with them grown up. Please?

Romantic Scale: 8 

** I received this book from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

Posted in Uncategorized

Monday Musings…Drama

I just recently read a book that had lots and lots of drama in it. And I so enjoyed it. I was on the edge of my seat figuring out relationships and the way things worked. To be perfectly honest, I don’t always enjoy drama, but when it’s done well, I never want the book to end. So, I thought, what is the difference between good drama and bad drama? Here are some of my ideas:

1. Bad drama usually occurs when the main character is not taking into consideration other people’s feelings. The book will end with the main character and her man happy, and yet leave trails of depression everywhere else. Bad drama leaves you believing the main character is selfish. Bad drama has one of the main characters doing something they don’t want to do and hiding that under the badge of honor. It is not honorable to be in a relationship with someone you don’t want to be with no matter the reason (unless they’re married and if they’re married what were they doing wanting to be with someone else in the first place!). Bad drama has no consequences (of any substance) for the main character if they’ve done wrong.

2. Good drama leaves everyone happy and satisfied at the end even if they had a bit of rollercoaster to get there. And I don’t mean contrived happiness. It must feel authentic. Good drama leaves you believing that the main character is a bit of a victim of their circumstance. If two people can’t be together in a good drama, there is a good reason (war, class restrictions, race issues, etc.).

So, what do you consider bad drama? What do you consider good drama?

Posted in Uncategorized

Jennifer Hartz’s The Ghost Runner

About

The boy was 8-years-old when he died. Decades later he came to play with us. 

Almost every kid grows up playing with ghost runners, imaginary people who run the bases for you when you don’t have enough kids to play. Twelve-year-old Chandler Dean is no exception, but nothing could surprise Chandler more than a real ghost joining the game. 

Chandler must uncover the mystery of the ghost runner all the while dealing with middle school adolescence, including his best friend moving away and awkward interactions with a new crush. Chandler’s search for answers uncovers both past and present tragedies. Is Chandler strong enough to endure why the ghost runner has come?

Review

The Ghost Runner is a short novella that you can have read in one reading…and not just because it’s short! It’s engaging, interesting, and a wee bit mysterious. Though the main character in this novella is 13 years old, I would argue that the story is probably geared more towards older readers. 

What I liked:

– Though I’m not one for children’s books, I actually really liked that Chandler was young and that you got to see everything through his eyes. 

– I really liked the idea of a ghost runner because I had never heard it before and the added bonus of Nicholas really had me invested in the story to see what had happened. 

– Spiritually, I would have to say that this book deals with the issue of death and how God works all things out for the good to those that love him and those that are called according to his purpose. There is tragedy and then there is hope.

What I didn’t like:

– The ending was a surprise to me. I didn’t see that one coming. 

– Chandler’s voice in the narrative sometimes was informational and sometimes came across as older than he was.

Overall, a very good novella that is both creative and intriguing.

Romantic Scale: N/A (though there is a huge case of puppy love)

**I received this book from the author. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Posted in Contemporary, Young Adult

Rajdeep Paulus’ Swimming Through Clouds

About

When high school cell phone disruption forces a classroom ban, the words on a Post-it note spark a sticky romance between two unlikely friends. Transfer student Talia Vanderbilt has one goal at her new school: to blend in with the walls. Lagan Desai, basketball captain and mathlete, would do just about anything to befriend the new girl. One Post-it note at a time, Lagan persuades Talia to peel back her heart, slowly revealing her treasure chest of pain—an absent mother, a bedridden brother, and an abusive father. In a world where hurt is inevitable, the two teens search for a safe place to weather the storms of life. Together.

Review

There’s this new thing in YA/NA books where the female protagonist is dealing with some kind of trauma in her past or present and she meets a guy and somehow he helps her get over the trauma or get out of the trauma. This book follows that similar format (though it’s not the same). Here, we have Talia, who is living with the psycho father of the year, when Lagan begins to reach out to her.

Talia: I will admit, that the first 25% of the novel is a bit depressing and I was wondering where the novel was going. But once I got past that, and got really involved in Talia, I did not want to put the book down. Ms. Paulus does a wonderful job of making me nervous when Talia is nervous, hopeful when she is hopeful, and scared when she is scared. I was really concerned that the whole novel would be about poor Talia and while there was plenty of reason to feel pity for Talia, that is not always fun to read. But it wasn’t. Talia may have been going through some crazy things, but she has this wonderful personality that looks for hope on the other side and you can’t help but be drawn to her.

Lagan. The only thing wrong with Lagan is that he is perfect. I wished that he had a flaw or two so that he seemed more real. That said, I loved Lagan’s idea of post notes. That was creative and really kind of romantic to leave someone post it notes as a form of communication. And you can’t fault Lagan for his patience. He waits for Talia and that’s beautiful. And frankly, it’s better than most secular novels which have a tendency to rush the romance regardless of the scars that the protagonist has. I also really liked that the story doesn’t just end with high school and you begin to see their relationship mature as they get older. The only other critique I have, is that Lagan does everything he can to get to know Talia, but I didn’t get the feeling that Talia did everything she could to know him.

Let me just note, that I really liked this book, in the case that you feel that I’ve criticized it too much (I read a ton of YA books so I just happen to focus on the small things). It was engaging. It’s different than most Christian YA novels. I hated the ending merely because I desperately want to know what happens next (excited for book 2!). I really felt for the characters and was completely drawn in.

Spiritually, the novel approaches the things of God in a kind of vague, but still there way. It’s complicated to explain, but I love how she shows that Jesus is who you need him to be at the time you need him there (this may sound vague, but if you read the book, you’ll understand). I also love that though Talia really likes Lagan, she turns to prayer first and foremost and doesn’t rely on Lagan to fix her situation.

Overall, if you love YA fiction, get this book!

Romantic Scale: 8.9

Posted in Uncategorized

Monday Musings…YA

I really enjoy YA novels and the Christian arena is starting to open their doors to more. I’ve showed a couple of covers of YA novels that are coming out this year, but here is one I hadn’t expected:

The isolated town of Beldon, Wisconsin, is shocked when a high school freshman’s body is found in Lake Algonquin. Just like everyone in the community, sixteen-year-old Daniel Byers believes that Emily Jackson’s death was accidental. But at her funeral, when he has a terrifying vision of her, his world begins to rip apart at the seams.

Convinced that Emily’s appearance was more than just a mere hallucination, Daniel begins to look carefully into her death, even as he increasingly loses the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality.

What’s real? What’s not? Where does reality end and madness begin?

As Daniel struggles to find the truth, his world begins to crumble around him as he slips further and further into his own private blurred reality.

Full of mind-bending twists and turns, Blur launches a new trilogy of young adult thrillers from Steven James, a master of suspense.

 

Anyone else planning on reading this?

Posted in Interview

Interview of Julie Lessman and Giveaway!

1.      Of all the novels in The Heart of San Francisco Series, which one was the hardest to write? Which was the easiest?

Surprisingly book 1, Love at Any Cost, was the easiest, which is odd given the difficulty a writer has in fleshing out a whole new family and setting, complete with new personalities, quirks, and pretty intense historical research.

As far as the most difficult, I was shocked to discover that Meg’s story in book 3, Surprised by Love, was a real bear to write because I mistakenly expected it be the easiest. You see, I loved the idea of an ugly duckling turning into a swan and catching the eye of the childhood nemesis who scorned her, allowing for some romantic revenge. And with a first line like “Close your mouth, Devin Caldwell, you’ll swallow a fly,” I just thought it’d be fun and easy to write, especially with the groundwork already laid for a quirky but lovable family and ongoing romance/friendship between the widowed matriarch and her brother-in-law.

But, as usually happens in my books, the characters dictate to me how the story is going to go, so Meg threw me a curve. Instead of exacting revenge on Devin Caldwell, I realized she is just too sweet and kind and gentle to ever do that to anyone, so that shifted the story for me to a much more serious vein, throwing me for a loop. It took a lot of prayer and time to get to the end, but I finally did, and I actually like it a lot.

 2.      I’ve heard you say that Charity is your favorite character that you created, do you have a new favorite (or a second favorite) from this series?

As far as the O’Connor saga (The Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series), yes, Charity will always be my favorite heroine because she is just so wonderfully flawed, that she was an absolute joy to redeem. Charity reminds me just how much God pulled my own life out of the gutter and frankly, she is a real hoot who makes me laugh—funny, audacious, resilient and as passionate about those she loves as those she hates. And she certainly underscores a valuable lesson I learned a long time ago—it’s the unlovable ones in our lives that need the most love.

And Mitch and Luke? Well, I guess I just like the strong, stubborn type with whom my heroines can butt heads (and blonds, apparently, like my hubby used to be!).

But in the McClare series, my favorites are definitely Cait and Logan and it shows because some reviewers have accused me of allowing their sub-story to steal the show. But I can’t help it—just like Marcy and Patrick were the glue to the O’Connor series, so are Cait and Logan, and maybe that’s because I am a Baby Boomer who relates to an older couple’s love story so well. Who knows?

 3.      What inspired the creation of Nick Barone’s character and his past (this guy has a lot going on!)?

Well, I knew I wanted a plainclothes detective instead of just a plain police officer because I saw Nick as a grouchy mix of two other “detective” types, Magnum P.I. and Colombo—a tall, dark Italian police detective who’s as disheveled as Peter Falk’s raincoat and as adorable as a young Tom Selleck’s dimples. As far as Nick’s jaded past with the Irish Mob, that came about because I really didn’t have a big surprise twist at the end of this book like I do in book 1, so I figured I’d toss in a touch of gang violence to keep the readers engaged so maybe they wouldn’t notice there wasn’t a big twist. 😉

 4.      Can I just say that I love Logan? He’s my favorite character in the whole series. What inspired you to write this kind of romance between him and Caitlyn (which I imagine will span the entire series)?

LOL … oh, you bet you can say that because he’s my favorite too, along with Cait. And, yes, their story is the bridge that spans all three novels, hopefully to bring a solid and cohesive connection to each book in the series.

It’s no secret that I love family sagas because family is very important to me, both in my books and in my personal life, so I knew I needed that component. But just as I moved the McClares to the opposite coast, I also wanted a completely different relationship from the married couple/parents scenario I had with Marcy and Patrick from the O’Connor saga, but still with the feel of family and a deep romance. So I came up with the idea of love story between a widowed matriarch and the brother-in-law to whom she was once engaged before he cheated on her. She subsequently marries his brother, and Logan has been kicking himself ever since. The series opens after Cait has been widowed about two years and Logan is determined to win her back no matter the cost, which is high since it means he has to forsake an amoral lifestyle and turn to God. Suddenly you have a womanizing rogue like Logan McClare willing to change his ways for the love of a woman and family, which is always a winning scenario in my book, no pun intended.

 5.      Can you tell us about the next novel in the series? And is this the last one? Or does Blake get his own novel as well?

Book 3, Surprised by Love, is the final book for the McClares, although I am toying with the idea of a novella or stand-alone book for Jamie’s sister possibly, but not for Blake.

This will be Meg’s story, of course, with a love triangle between Bram and Devin Caldwell, and then the culmination of Cait and Logan’s story as well. Here’s the jacket blurb:

 

From ugly duckling to swimming with the swans …

But is she over her head when it comes to love?

Shy and unattractive as a child, Megan McClare has always been teased by her classmates. But when she returns home from her senior year in Paris, the wallflower has suddenly blossomed into a beauty. With ambitions to become a lawyer or doctor, Megan accepts an internship at the District Attorney’s office only to discover that she will be working with Devin Caldwell, a boy who mercilessly mocked her at school—and with whom she was hopelessly enamored. She turns to her dear friend Bram Hughes for support and advice. But Bram’s vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a little sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man?

Moral Premise: Rejection, insecurity and guilt can skew our choices, resulting in misery and lack of peace, but acceptance, confidence and faith in God can shape our choices, resulting in contentment and peace.

Scripture Theme: For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. —Proverbs 3:26

 6.      How can readers connect with you?

Well, I love to hear from reader friends, so if they like, they can contact me through my website at http://www.julielessman.com, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/. Or through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest.

Also, I have a cool blog feature on my website called “Journal Jots” at http://www.julielessman.com/journal-jots1/, which is a very laid-back journal to my reader friends that will give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing.

Or readers can check out my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books on the “Excerpts” tab of my website at http://www.julielessman.com/excerpts/.

Of course, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/, a group blog of 13 published authors that inspires, encourages, teaches, and informs aspiring writers on the road to publication and beyond.

Finally, here are some fun freebies, sales, and giveaways going on right now or in the future:

1.) FREE DOWNLOAD of my debut novel A Passion Most PureAmerican Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year, A Passion Most Pure has over 340 five-star reviews on Amazon and some of readers have actually read it more than 20 times! Here are the links for your free download!  AMAZONBARNES & NOBLECBD.COM 

2.) SALE TO END SOON ON 99-CENT A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW! I hope you’ll check out my video for my Irish love story, A Light in the Window, which stars my daughter and has won three awards and garnered 125 five-star reviews. It’s still only 99 CENTS on Amazon, but only for a little while longer, so check out the video here, http://bit.ly/1kkzvlC, and you can download it here: AMAZON.

3.) FREE DOWNLOAD on Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Inspirational and Sweet Markets coming FEBRUARY 11-15 on Amazon, so mark your calendar and here’s the link to find out more about the book: Romance-ology 101.

4.) NEW CONTEST TO HAVE A CHARACTER NAMED AFTER YOU IN MY NEXT BOOK!  I have a newsletter contest going on now through 3/31/14 where posting even one short review for any of my books will enter you to win a character named after you in my next book, a signed copy, and if you are the top poster, a $50 gift card. So if you’re interested, just sign up for my newsletter (I send out two a year) at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/, and I will send you the info, okay?

Thanks, Embassie, for a fun interview!

Hugs,

Julie

 Giveaway!!!

Mrs. Julie Lessman has graciously offered to giveaway one of her novels of your choosing! Just leave a comment below stating what you love about a Julie Lessman novel (or why you would like to read one) with the name of the novel you want plus your email address. I will pick a random winner. The winner must respond within 48 hours of being notified of their win. The contest ends Feb. 28th!